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Tough teams stand in Jesuit's way

The Tigers have plenty of talent but will play in a very competitive district.

By RICK GERSHMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001


TAMPA -- All Jesuit does is win. Including the playoffs, the Tigers won more games in the 1990s than any other county school (86, better than Hillsborough by four).

Jesuit was the only program to post a winning season every year. And the Tigers closed out the '90s with four consecutive district titles.

So joining a new district this year shouldn't be much of a challenge, right? Jesuit always makes the playoffs, right?

Right?

Well, last year, the Tigers reached the post-season as the district runner-up due to a 21-20 overtime loss to Jefferson. A flubbed extra point made the difference. It was Jesuit's only regular-season loss. (It lost 25-7 to Jacksonville Bolles but was credited with a victory after it was discovered Bolles played with an ineligible player.)

This year, Jesuit is in a much tougher district. Among Jesuit's five opponents in Class 3A, District 8 are Bradenton Southeast (two-time state champion, three-time runner-up), Sarasota Booker and Palmetto.

Southeast is not the only star here. All three are defending district champions. So don't expect this trio to hand over a district title easily, even to a perennial power like Jesuit.

Add in Robinson and Blake, Jesuit coach Dominick Ciao said, and "these are all teams with tremendous speed. This could be a tough district."

Jesuit won't have much time to get ready for Southeast. That is its first district game, in Week 3.

"That's the way it goes," Ciao said. "I don't worry about that. Whatever's dealt, you have to deal with it. I just hope we're in the hunt."

OFFENSE: The line is a big strength, with massive, strong seniors in Mark Burgess, Kyle McGraw, Joe Romano and Drew Ramm. Cody Chajkowski is a junior but just as massive.

Jesuit has a solid backfield tandem in senior A.J. Schneider and junior Aaron Fryer. The latter led the team in rushing in his sophomore year.

Anthony Severino saw plenty of experience at quarterback last year as a sophomore. He has impressed Ciao with smart decisions and strong leadership. He'll look for receivers Corey Anderson, Kyle Warren and Shane Robinson. DEFENSE: Linebackers were the strength last year, but all of the starters graduated. So Ciao will rely on the experience and talents of his line and secondary while the new players get up to speed.

Up front, Chris Sullivan, Ryan Patneaude and Casey Camaro return, joined by Ben Anderson, who played a few games at nose tackle last year.

Taking over at linebacker are Will Smith, Casey Gonzmart, Jimmy Alfonso and John Fontana. Cornerbacks Robinson and David Ochotorena will lead the secondary along with free safety Dylan McCrory.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Garrett Rivas is the new kicker and punter. Though Rivas is green, he has improved a lot in camp, Ciao said. Jesuit tends to be strong in this area, so don't be surprised if he has a pretty good leg.

JESUIT TIGERS AT A GLANCE

COACH: Dominick Ciao, 15th season (109-58)

ASSISTANTS: Ty Alvarez, Steve Bartalo, John Few, James Harrell, Bobby Holder, Billy Minahan, Joe Ross, Robert Weiner

COLORS: Blue and white

STADIUM: Corral Stadium, 4701 N Himes Ave., Tampa

CLASS: 3A, District 8

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1967, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

LAST APPEARANCE: Beat Daytona Beach Seabreeze 29-3, beat Crystal River 14-0, lost to Titusville Astronaut 38-0

STATE TITLE: 1968 (Class A)

THE BIG GAME

SEPT. 14, BRADENTON SOUTHEAST: This is a huge district game that will determine the district winner and runner-up as these two are the class of 3A-8.

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